Originally posted on Fox Sports Arizona  |  Last updated 4/21/12
PHOENIX The soreness in Justin Upton's left thumb is irrelevant to him at this point. Upton returned to the lineup Saturday after missing four starts, and he plans to remain is his No. 3 spot in the order going forward. The medical staff told Upton he could do no further damage to the bone bruise in his thumb unless he jams it again, and it is a risk he is willing to take. "I don't think at this point it matters. I'm going to play," Upton said when asked after a 3-2 loss to Atlanta how the digit felt. "I'm playing the game. I'm going to be in the lineup. I want to play, so I'm going to go out and play. I can't do any further damage to it, so I'm going to play. I don't like to sit on the sideline watching. It's nice to be out there. Obviously, we'd like to get a win." Upton lined a fastball to left field for a double on the first pitch he saw in the first inning to set up a the D-backs' first run, moving Gerardo Parra to third before Miguel Montero hit an RBI-groundout. It was Upton's first at-bat since April 16, the day before he had fluid drained from his thumb first injured April 8. Manager Kirk Gibson appreciated Upton's presence in the lineup as the team attempts to fight through an offensive slump. "Justin understands what's going on around here," Gibson said. "He's got it calmed down. Barring him jamming it again like he did, his chance for further injuring it that's not going to happen. If you're beating on it with a bat all the time, maybe it will not get well as quickly as it would, but he wants to play. "He's not 100 percent, but he is out there for his teammates." The D-backs lost the four games Upton did not start, and saw their losing streak move to five games Saturday despite Upton's double and Jason Kubel's first home run with the D-backs. Kubel'shomer tied the game at 2 in the second, and was his first homer since Aug. 31, 2011, when he connected off White Sox right-hander Jake Peavy. "I'd just like to get more hits, some meaningful hits, and win some games," Kubel said. "We are grinding it out. It is not going as we thought it would right now, but it's still really early. That's the positive. We know what we are capable of doing. We'll get there, hopefully tomorrow, but who knows. We caught them at a tough time." The D-backs have been in an offensive funk, and being without Chris Young (shoulder) and Upton has not made it any easier. They have four runs and 16 hits in the three games against Atlanta and did not put a runner on base against Tommy Hanson, Jonny Venters and Craig Kimbrel after Paul Goldschmidt's two-out infield single put runners on first and second with two outs in the third inning Saturday. Kubel struck out top end that threat, and Atlanta retired the final 19 batters. Both Venters and Kimbrel struck out the side in their one inning. "They were pretty dominating. They have been all series." Gibson said of the Atlanta staff. "Our guys are trying. When you try to hard, you over-think it, and it is just very hard to hit that way." Joe Saunders made his third consecutive quality start, although it ended it a loss when Dan Uggla guessed right on a changeup and lined a home run into the left field seats to break a tie at 2. "I think he was just sitting soft. It was a first-pitch changeup to try to get ahead of him. It was down, and he just put a good swing on it," Saunders said. Saunders pitched to the minimum 14 batters before leaving after seven innings. Michael Bourn singled with two outs in the fourth, but Miguel Montero threw him out attempting to steal to end the inning. "I just try to up as many zeroes as I could to keep us in the game," Saunders said. "We're banged up right now. Everybody can see that. It's just a matter of fighting through it. When runs are at a premium like they are right now, the pitching staff has to step up." Follow Jack Magruder on Twitter
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